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Exploring New Research at Stratum Corneum 2012
By: Katerina Steventon, PhD, FaceWorkshops
Posted: November 1, 2012
The International Society for Stratum Corneum Research held its seventh biannual Stratum Corneum (SC) conference on Sept. 10–12 as a joint meeting with the Skin Forum. The event’s namesake is the top layer of the skin that functions primarily as the skin barrier, and it plays a vital role in many aspects of personal care.
The three-day conference was attended by researchers working in basic and applied research of SC biology, organization and function, transdermal absorption and their applications in personal care, pharmaceutical technology and dermatology. Ronald Marks, PhD, of Cutest Systems Ltd., opened the event and set the scene in defining the SC as an important barrier membrane, acting also as “a canvas on which we paint a pleasing supplement to our aesthetic selves.” The SC has impressive protective functions, including: mechanical (preventing incisional, torsional and scratch injury), antimicrobial and ultraviolet. In addition, it also has an impressive viscoelastic nature and pliability, allowing digits to move without cracking.
The SC also has an ability to differentiate at specific anatomical sites. Jean-Luc Lévêque, PhD, of Skindata elaborated on the SC mechanical function. It is a bio-composite membrane made of reinforced corneocytes bound together by proteic plugs and lipids of a complex, ordered structure. Synergy of these building blocks allows SC to remain cohesive while ensuring its barrier properties when strained by external mechanical stimuli. SC transmits weak tactile stimuli from its surface and has frictional properties to allow an efficient grasp and sensing of objects.
Organization and Function of SC
Marek Haftek, PhD, MD, of CNRS and his group presented their research of electron microscopy of the barrier and detection and functionality of epidermal tight junctions. The barrier is located in stratum compactum with lipid molecules arranged in quasi-continuous multilayered sheets and hydrophilic lacunae. Tight junctions in the stratum granulosum are involved in the process of SC formation and may constitute a secondary barrier beneath SC. Mila Boncheva, PhD, of Firmenich elaborated on the physical chemistry of barrier lipids, reviewing current understanding of their composition, self-assembly and molecular organization related to skin barrier integrity.
The processes of epidermal differentiation and apoptosis were explored by Professor Wim Declercq, PhD, of Ghent University. Caspases, proteinases with a role in inflammation and apoptosis are also implicated in keratinocyte differentiation. It is a pathway that differs from the classical cell death.
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